3 Steps To Improve PLM Collaboration

In the landscape of PLM, collaboration is overused word. You can hear “collaborative” a lot, and you’d be thinking all problems of collaboration are already solved. However, I think, we are only in the beginning of starting to have a real collaborative solution. The most important thing for a collaborative solution is a context. To have a right context is important, otherwise you cannot efficiently collaborate. Think about emails or files. You cannot be sure your co-worker or manager is looking on the same piece of information.

I had chance to read Google Enterprise blog about New Sharing Options in Google Docs. Take a look on the following video.

It made me think about some fundamental things we are missing when creating PLM collaborative solutions.

Unique names for resources
PLM manages different pieces of product data, documents and many other resources. Depending on what is the scope of PLM implementation, the amount of data can vary. What need to be done to collaborate efficiently is to have an ability to provide a unique name for data (or resources) we want to collaborate on. By doing that, we will be able to have a constant context to use for collaboration. The unique resource name can remind you web (URI) – everything on the web has their own unique naming. We can use the same to identify your product data in the organization.

An obvious, but very important addition to unique naming/identification. If there are resources, we need to apply security rules to ensure you have appropriated rights to collaborate on the specific data set. Security functions can be global for the organization or local to facilitate a collaboration need for a specific person who may be outside of the organization.

Share Options
The third component of a successful collaboration strategy. You need to be able to invite a person and to provide a particular piece of data as a context. If you use unique naming and appropriated security model, you cannot go wrong. Your context will be always well identified and access by multiple people at the same time. You can use various nice options for share such as an ability to transfer, share, ability to redline, edit or just view. You need also to provide information to users who is sharing this context, for the moment.

What is my conclusion? I think, PLM is using word collaboration very intensively. However, there is one thing, many of the collaborative PLM software is missing – unique name of the resources to collaborate on. Unique resource names can solve lots of problems PLM has today. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg



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  • Ravi

    Hi Oleg,

    Your observation is correct. I don’t have much idea of the various PLM products available in market and I have a restricted view to SAP PLM.

    Looking at your observation, I felt that SAP’s PLM 7.0 and higher releases provide a solution to your observation. SAP PLM 7.0 and above comes with its own collaborative tool called Access Control Management.

    The flavour of the solution is:-
    1) It is “Context” driven.
    2) The project manager can create context where he/she can model his/her own context, create roles in the context where he/she can assign users and user groups.
    3) Finally the “Context” owns the objects upon which the users of the context can work upon.
    4) Not to mention, the cross objects, across various contexts can also be maintained here with the option of lending objects between the “Contexts”.

    This is very secure as the business logic is stored behind a firewall of the company and user access the Business Objects and Business Logic by internet explorer, portal or netweaver business client.

    Thus it provides Share Options, Unique Names and Security. Moreover the users who wishes to work in “Object Centric” environment can still work with the “Access Control List” functionality of PLM Access Control Management.

    Hence both “Object Centric” and “Context Centric” requirements are fulfilled. Not to forget the other flavors, there is integrated status management, dyncamic workflow management and many other features.

    I personally don’t feel any other PLM solution has such a strong collaboration base. But you are the right person to share that, as I said in the beginning, I have a very restricted view to SAP PLM.

    Many Regards,

  • Ravi, thank you for your comments and information sharing. I’m less familiar with SAP PLM 7.0. From my past work with SAP (mostly in manufacturing) the biggest concern is always about the ability to share and communicate outside of a traditional single SAP environment. Is it possible in SAP PLM 7.0 to use non-SAP context for collaboration? Is it possible the “share” be done outside of SAP environment? Thanks again! Oleg

  • Ravi

    Hi Oleg,

    You are correct, SAP PLM 7.0’s collaboration doesn’t provide an open channel for a non-SAP context. Still, everything is bound to SAP. It is good in a sense that now users can use URLs and Portal to access and persist data in SAP environment.

    The collaboration tool also acts as a authorization tool here for SAP PLM environment. This is extremely good for customers who already are on SAP and have their business objects available in SAP environment. But SAP does provide to an extent migration of business objects from non-SAP environment to SAP environment with the help of partners.

    I would say its a very controlled way of communication as it restricts the user to know what is of concern or expected for him/her to know :). But I am intrested to know if there are any other PLM vendors who provide an open collaboration tool.

    I still feel having a generic unified collaboration tool across technologies is still a far away destination. I like your blogs and intend to reach that destination :).

    Many Regards,

  • Ravi, Thanks for excellent explanations about SAP! I think, we can see unified collaboration signs in multiple projects delivered in consumer and enterprise software. Just to remember, the most powerful collaboration tool is an email. And it is powerful, since it relies on multiple Email servers that not require platform synchronization, etc. Just my thoughts… Best, Oleg

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